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Controversy alert! Why you just might need to lie at interview!

11 December 2014

Sometimes you just have to lie at interview. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Sometimes the questions are just so daft that they need and deserve an untrue answer, especially at the first stage. While HR is tediously focused on making certain that candidates are great team players the hiring manager often want those who don’t venture near the proverbial team box. That’s why you often need to play the game at stage one to get to the decision maker.

Case in point: the HR person will normally ask you if you work well with others? Well, many of the smartest and most innovative people on the planet simply don’t. They are not trouble makers but they simply prefer to work alone. Not a good answer for HR. It makes them nervous – and the stock answer that you can do both can make you look weak.

What you can’t say to HR is “No. I don’t really like working with others. I actually do my best work by myself.” Result – shock horror and you are on your way to the door. The fact that Einstein and Newton would have failed their test doesn’t wash.

Another HR question that demands a lie goes like this: “So tell me why you want to work for our company.” In many cases, the honest answer would be: “I think this is the best place to make a fortune before I’m 35.”

But to the safe pair of HR hands that would lead to a fast dismissal out of the exit door. To get to the next-stage interview you have to lie, waxing poetic about the company’s innovative culture or praising the company founder (who, by the way, is eager to have brilliant wealth-seeking hot shots on the team).

Don’t get suckered into the “Just be yourself,” theory of interviews. It often won’t work. Instead, at the outset, you need to be what they want you to be. And in most cases, you need to (and should) lie to win a chance to see the real players in the company. The ones with a 180 degree different (from HR) perspective on life/business/success and how to get what you want in your career.

Look, I don’t believe in making lying a way of life–in fact, I appreciate blunt and honest people and think of myself in this way. But when a system is stacked against the truth, dance around it.